Bipedal robot training to become world's fastest

Researchers at Oregon State University designed the birdlike ATRIAS to maneuver over uneven terrain.

What is as tall as a human, has the legs of a bird, and can’t think for itself?

ATRIAS, which stands for Assume The Robot Is A Sphere, is currently being designed by researchers in the Dynamic Robotics Laboratory at Oregon State University to become the fastest bipedal robot in the world. The robot is modeled after the fastest two-legged runners in nature: birds, specifically ones that spend most of their time on the ground, such as chickens.

"When this robot gets up to speed for walking, not even running yet, it will be the fastest bipedal robot in the world," Jonathan Hurst, an associate professor and robotic expert in the OSU College of Engineering, told KGW News.

The robot’s legs are made with a lightweight carbon-fiber mechanism that is mounted on fiberglass springs, which store mechanical energy and provide suspension so that it can be as fast and agile as possible on uneven terrain.

According to the Dynamic Robotics Laboratory’s website, “ATRIAS is designed to move like a simple 'spring-mass' model, a theoretical model which is comparable to a pogo stick. This springy model can both walk and run with remarkable energy economy and in a fashion highly similar to humans and other animals. By building ATRIAS like this model, we are targeting similar performance.”

In training, the robot has easily kept its balance while withstanding kicks, punches, and dodgeballs.

Researchers working on the project believe that the robot could eventually be used to enter disaster areas that are too dangerous for humans. The technology also has potential applications in building prosthetic limbs that will better mimic natural movement.

ATRIAS has its own twitter handle and posts first-person updates on its progress each day.

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